Frequently Asked Questions on the Post Point Heron Rookery
The Post Point Great Blue Heron Colony is the only known heron nesting site in the City of Bellingham. The colony was first documented in 2000 at its present location in south Bellingham's Fairhaven district, adjacent to the Post Point Wastewater Treatment Plant. The colony is located in a forest patch on City owned property, situated between the wastewater plant and privately owned undeveloped land.
Annual monitoring of the colony has been employed as a conservation measure due to the colony's local significance as a critical habitat area and unique natural feature within the urban area. Habitats used by the Post Point herons include Post Point Lagoon, upland forest, fallow grass field, freshwater, estuarine and nearshore marine areas. The heron nesting area is situated on a nearshore slope in mixed forest. The herons utilize this habitat for both nesting and roosting and are present seasonally in large concentrations to nest, and in smaller year-round roosting aggregations in the same contiguous forest as the colony.
To further protect the heron colony, the City of Bellingham made a fair-market value offer in September 2019 to purchase a property adjacent to the heron rookery at Post Point, but the offer was rejected. While the City was unable to purchase the property, there are no active proposals to develop it as of October 2019.
To answer Frequently Asked Questions by the public, the City has produced the following FAQs.
Q: Will the City make any further offers on the adjacent properties?
The City's policy is not to comment on potential property acquisitions until the property has been acquired or the potential purchase has been abandoned.
Q: Will property acquisition be taken up again by City Council?
The Council does not currently have plans to discuss the issue.
Q: Will the city continue to try to negotiate a deal?
The City offered to purchase the property at fair market value. The owner rejected the offer. We are not engaged in active negotiations.
Q: How does the City determine “fair market value" for a property and how much did the City offer?
The City's policy is not to comment on potential property acquisitions until the property has been acquired or the potential purchase has been abandoned. The appraisal is exempt from public inspection and copying under the Public Records Act. Therefore, we will not be sharing information about the appraisal at this time.
Q: Did the owners make a counteroffer?
No, the property owner did not make a counteroffer.
Q: Is the City of Bellingham going to prevent the adjacent lots from being developed by withholding a critical area permit to the property owner?
The law requires that the City process any development applications that it receives for the property in accordance with the Bellingham Municipal Code. The City cannot legally refuse to accept an application for development. However, accepting an application does not mean that it will successfully meet adopted regulations and be approved. Each application is considered on a case-by-case basis. An application may be submitted that would not require a Critical Area permit (by avoiding locating any development activity within designated protection areas). However, any application that may be submitted would be subject to a thorough review assessing the applicability of the environmental standards contained within the Municipal Code. Additionally, the Environmental Record and applicable state agencies will be consulted.
Q: Is there any ongoing discussion about how the City might preserve the heron rookery?
The City has taken steps to preserve the rookery and continues to do so. We contract with a wildlife biologist and heron expert to monitor the rookery and we are expecting an update to the Post Point Heron Management Plan later this year. To review the Post Point Heron Colony Annual Reports, click here: https://www.cob.org/services/environment/restoration/Pages/post-point-lagoon.aspx
Q: How can I provide input to the City Council on this issue?
The City Council accepts public comment at the beginning of every Council meeting. Also, the public may have an opportunity to comment on future development proposals for the property. To send written comments to City Council, email firstname.lastname@example.org or mail comments to Bellingham City Council, 210 Lottie St., Bellingham WA 98225.